Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day from Essential Yoga Practice!

Love will save the day, every day, as we recognize that all of us, to some degree practice Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of love and devotion. Furthermore, as all of life is a “practice,” let us resolve to practice Bhakti yoga all the more, and especially on this great day that honors “love, the mother of all emotions.”  Bhakti yoga is not always easy and upbeat; rather it requires courage to face our true selves, even the hard and scary places, and offer ourselves to the Divine. It challenges our willingness to be dedicated and to surrender all parts of our life as an act of worship.  It recognizes that all of life is a spiritual practice laced with the challenge to evolve as we learn from our experiences while sharing our gifts.

The Upanishad’s tell us that we do not love others for their own sake but for the Divine that dwells within them. Therefore, bhakti is intense love for God/Higher Power, that which is eternal and constant.  In the practice of bhakti yoga we use all of our senses, emotions and actions to manifest in expressing love throughout our daily actions and relationships, as an offering of devotion to God/Higher Power.  Whether you are folding the laundry, guiding your children, working a stressful job or practicing meditation, do it with love.  On occasion we find ourselves in a hard corner, where our efforts have been challenged and we are empty. When we give in, still with awareness, we are surrendering to “our higher Self,” the Divine within us, an internal, humble surrender that allows us to receive Grace.  Here is where we find renewal in the illuminating light of the Divine, showing us the way out of the corner.  We fall and rise from such hard times throughout life, yet if we are aware, we can embrace the opportunity to receive Grace in a greater capacity each time, overcoming hurdles, as our journey toward enlightenment progresses. This is motivation in itself to deepen our practice. 

Thus, here at Essential Yoga Practice, in this month where we are focusing on intention and awareness, we have arrived at this: if we learn to expand our awareness in our devotional habits, perhaps we can invoke a life of love, happiness, acceptance and peace, for ourselves and for our loved ones. 

We have created a Valentine blend as our February 2018 giveaway.  Share and comment on our social media to be eligible to win an exotic, and mesmerizing blend that will “hold you” and warm your spirit.

Living Intentionally

Attention:  

Being intentional requires paying attention. 

This means paying attention to intuition, emotions, prana/energy, and all of these aspects come from within.  Focusing on our external environment only keeps us living from a reactive perspective, always on the defense, and does not let us connect our true nature to life’s journey. Therefore, living intentionally has as its foundation to live authentically, to be able to tune in to our true self so as to understand where and how we align with the outside world, and therefore to better understand our direction in life. From a yogic perspective, we use the following tools to tune in:  Meditation, breath work and yoga asana. 

 

Meditation allows us to observe our thoughts without judgment and to reel in our wandering mind as an exercise. With a meditation practice we build focus, self-awareness, and compassion. We can understand ourselves better so that we steer away from stress and anxiety to becoming better listeners, less judgmental, and more open and kind individuals.  

 

Paying attention to breath allows us to recognize where we habitually hold tension and what that tension might be connected to. Focusing on the quality of our breath during yoga asana shows us what we are arriving with to our practice, both emotionally and physically. Perhaps then we can begin to understand how to let go of things that do not serve us. Paying attention to when we hold our breath helps us to break the habits that are connected to stress and anxiety.  

 

Yoga asana is designed to help us learn about ourselves as we learn how to tune in to the unique structure and alignment of our bodies, the action within the alignment of asana practice, and how our body opens up with specific postures, preparations, and transitions of movement between postures. We typically focus on the physical body and then learn over time, with practice, to tune into the energetic and then perhaps the subtle body, as we begin to understand ourselves better. 

 

When we pay attention to what goes on within, we are more perceptive to what goes on around us and can improve how we are able to evolve personally so that we play an effective and proactive role in helping our world community evolve as well.  In order to affect positive change in our world, we must pay attention to all the signs and messages, from deep within ourselves to the far reaches of the universe. There is joy in learning this interconnectedness. Paying attention is the key to learning. Be willing to look with the eyes of a beginner, every day you step onto your yoga mat, so that you might learn something new about yourself, and then take that lesson with you into your daily life!

 

What have you learned recently from your yoga practice? Share your experiences and share our blog to be eligible for this month’s giveaway

9 Whole-You Practices to Come Back to Center

As life gets more and more harried, pulling us into seemingly millions of directions, the term “whole” has been tugging at the minds and hearts of many. While we are feeling fragmented with electronic and word bombardment, a myriad of processed and fast food choices, and a fast-pace of life in general…the idea of coming back to center by getting back to the basics sounds better and better. So, what are these practices that help us to find that balance in our lives, that help us carefully fit the pieces back into our whole?

1.       Pranayama, or breath work. There is something solid about focusing on one’s breath, on the inhale and the exhale. Breath work brings a tranquility and peace, and an awareness of our body and the living essence inside of it. It helps us release our minds from the millions of details we sometimes become attached to, and instead, focus on the greater whole inside us and around us.

2.       Aromatic use of essential oils interacts on a chemical level with the limbic center of our brains, and in a very real fashion, uplifts and fortifies emotions and paradigms.

3.       Topical use of pure and potent essential oils works with our cellular structure to help us center and come to balance, thereby supporting all the systems in the body.

4.       Healthy sleep helps us replenish, restore and rebuild on a physical and emotional level. 

5.       Proper hydration helps EVERYTHING in our bodies to function properly. 

6.       Regular aerobic exercise supports a healthy cardiovascular system.

7.       And of course, foods high in nutrition as well as high-quality supplements help give your cells the building blocks they need to thrive.

8.       Practicing daily meditation and gratitude help quiet the mind and put us in a space to balance giving and receiving.

9.  Yoga asana to have intentional postures/sequences that open body, mind and spirit to being receptive to change from a place of grounding. 

 

We’d love to hear more about YOUR whole-you practices. Please post on our Essential Yoga Practice Facebook, Instagram and Twitter page!

Breathing is the New Meditation: 4 Ways to Use Your Breath in Yoga

Yoga in the west is ever-growing with attention to embracing more than just asana practice, the third of the 8 limbs.  Wellness trends of 2018 show us that focusing on the breath is gaining great attention as both novice and seasoned yogis alike are learning and refining this rather powerful tool. In the practice of yoga we say that we need a one-pointed focus to be able to come to the present moment, and whether we use mantra, healing sound, aromatherapy, chanting, or breath, it is ultimately the focus on the breath that takes the crown as the greatest of all these tools.  Breath allows us to access awareness (blogposts on awareness and attention will be topics in February, stay tuned) and is considered the foremost tool because we can always tune in to the breath, it is always with us.  We can focus on the breath in every aspect of our yoga practice.  Here are some examples:

1.  Use focusing on breath as the foundation of a meditation practice – in yoga we say that “the breath is the home-base of the wandering mind.”

2.  Focus on the breath in asana practice, to deepen the experience of the pose we focus on the breath to see where does that take take our awareness, where are we holding unnecessary tension, where is our body opening, what comes up for us to learn when our breath allows us to be more present.

3. The art of breathing is the foundation of a pranayama practice:  There are hundreds of pranayamas, breathing exercises, to be learned in yoga.  They allow us to strengthen our cardiorespiratory system, build lung capacity, affect bold pressure, heart rate, make the respiratory system more resilient, and most importantly cultivate a refined connection of mind and body. For more on pranayama, see Essential Yoga Practice:  Your Guide to the New Yoga Practice With Essential Oils

4.  Apply the habit of finding refuge in breath awareness throughout the day – this is how we take our yoga practice “off the mat,” and into our daily life. Our breath mirrors our state of mind, so to steady your breath will allow you to steady your mind. This comes in handy when the mind is stressed or overwhelmed. To be able to do this is a refinement of a true yogi, aiming for the goal of being able to stay present while life revolves around you, so that you get to appreciate and learn from what is happening and thus to have an opportunity to evolve based on how you learn to control your reaction to life unfolding. Working from a breath-centered practice can help to dissolve the habits that become our obstacles to learning new habits that serve us better.  Holding back from habitual reaction by taking time to take a deep breath, allows the body to soften, creating clear pathways in the subtle energy channels of the body. Then the life force can flow freely, unobstructed, and decisions may come with clarity, from an unhurried reaction. The results may be more positive, though intangible, yet at times rather noticeable. Feeling more sure, acting from a positive outlook radiates a healthy mind and body connection, and the prana, life force comes from one’s true nature.

 

So how does focusing on the breath really work? Conscious breathing activates the diaphragm and stimulates the vagus nerve, effectively shifting the body from sympathetic, anxiety filled overdrive to the parasympathetic relaxed stage. Using specific breathing exercises, one can affect personal chemistry and well-being, and even take a shortcut to meditative states.  When we learn to control our breath, we can ease anxiety by turning our attention inward and access our intuition and true nature. 

 

Aromatherapy allows is to enhance using breath as a tool in the following ways: Essential oils like eucalyptus, ravinsara, cardamom, laurel, fir, myrrh, will open the respiratory tract and allow us deeper breathing. Essential oils like peppermint will support wake up the mind as well as support the opening of  respiratory channels.  As you focus on breath you can use aromatherapy to calm and soothe,  energize,  or assist in a myriad of ways to help you address challenges you might be experiencing. For example, if honest communication may be difficult, use lavender together with pranayama to bring light and awareness to your communication patterns. If you are feeling rushed or have anxious feelings, use a citrus oil such as wild orange to help you ease the pressure you are placing on yourself. Breath paired with intentional aromatherapy is a powerful tool.

 

A Simple Breathing Exercise:

Sit in a comfortable position in a quiet, uninterrupted place.  Apply a drop of essential oil from the above mentioned suggestions, to your hands, and bring your hands into Lotus mudra, at your heart.  Using this “personal diffuser,” take a deep breath. (If you want access to pure essential oils, please reach out to us). Notice the depth of your breath, the tension that you hold, the places your breath “goes.” Notice how your body begins to quiet from just one deep breath and how in turn, your mind begins to quiet. Continue with slow deep breathing for several minutes. Every time your mind begins to wander, come back to your breath. This is a practice of using the focus on your breath to help deter the habit of your mind from always racing. With practice, you will find less tendency of the racing mind in your daily life. And, when the overwhelming aspect of the mind’s scattered habit reappears, simple return to this simple breathing exercise. “Breathing is the new meditation” because it is accessible and effective!  We would love to hear about your experiences with breath work and aromatherapy. What essential oils work for you? What is your favorite pranayama?

Comment and/or share to be eligible for this month’s giveaway, a bottle of Grapefruit essential oil.   

Essential Yoga Sangha

As most people look forward to and start a new year, self-care comes foremost to mind. Weight loss, healthy eating, exercise, and living with a focus more centered in gratitude, service and joy are some of the topics freq, uently visited. Why do we tend to reflect on these things? Because these activities clear us, help us connect better to the people and activities most important to us, and help us raise our personal vibration.

 

Raising vibration, awareness and learning to be present (our only true moment of power) are results that both focusing onyoga and essential oils can bring. We invite you to join us for our  2-week Yoga Sangha, March 12, 2018…gift yourself this experience for self nurturing. In this Sangha course, you’ll deepen your knowledge about essential oils and how they can benefit your yoga practice and daily life, you’ll learn to identify your Ayurvedic constitution and apply the information for a higher level of self-care, you’ll review chakra balancing, you will learn how to live and practice yoga in a toxin-free environment, and more.

 

Yoga Alliance registered teachers can opt to receive 10 CE credits upon completion of thisSangha course, and will receive additional training on incorporating essential oils into their yoga studio and classes. Best of all, all Sangha participants have direct access to Mona and Asti and can get questions answered in a fun, supportive environment. 

 

We hope you put this experience on your bucket list for this year!

Essential Yoga Practice for Healing and Transformations

Yoga Asana , the sequence of yoga poses that you practice are tools to use to undo the stresses of life that are held in the body.  Many mind body practices agree that the body is a reflection of the state of the mind and of emotions.  When we begin a yoga sequence, it is very useful to use aromatherapy to bring the mind to a present state.  The aromatherapy could be chosen to compliment the theme of the practice,  to deepen the breath by relaxing the respiratory passages, to counter negative emotions or invoke positive emotions, to help the ease stress or simply to clear the air of airborne pathogens.  But once the mind has a “one-pointed” focus, then both the mind and body will quiet. 

 

Next comes the attention to the breath, which in turn allows the mind to relax, to allow the student’s own Divinity to connect to what is at the surface.  Starting with light asanas or preparations that begin to warm the muscles, tissues, joints and glands is typically a methodical way to allow a centering effect.   We use asana to strengthen the body as each asana is profound in its ability to unfold the constrictions that we place on the mind, and then the mind imposes restrictive habits on the breath and body. So we use asana practice to invite an opening of the body which is healing, and that becomes a habit as it replaces the habits of constriction.  So then, we do asana to unfold the beauty of the mind, the heart, the joy, the self.  We turn our reflection then inward, as we end with restorative asanas, to see where the breath needs to be, so that it does not come from the surface, or from stress or negative emotions.  A natural, organic unfolding begins and we cannot help but want to practice more. 

 

Want to learn more?  Get your copy of Essential Yoga Practice:  Your Guide to the New Yoga Experience Using Essential Oils, buy the DVD of 6 essential sequences and a lecture on the use of essential oils, and join us in our online course, Essential Yoga Sangha, where we will interact and build dialogue around this movement.

Our Essential Yoga Practice

We started Essential Yoga Practice 4 years ago, and published our book and DVD two years ago, because both yoga and aromatherapy have had a great, positive impact on our lives, on our wellness, and we wanted these practices to help you too!  We wanted to start a movement across the yoga community of the west that it is not just ok, but very traditional to use aromatherapy in yoga because yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, gives us direction on how and why to do so.  Wellness is a key word and “the” word for 2018! As a western society we have come so far in learning about integrative mind-body practices, yet we have so far to go. There is a great, growing gap between those who have access to fresh food and herbs, education, clean water, and health care.  Mind-body practices like yoga, are ever growing and accessing pure, organic food and plants for self care, and health care is ever so important too.  We grew Essential Yoga Practice to include an online course called Essential Yoga Sangha (tribe/community), to educate you and to continue to grow together, understanding the many limbs and facets of the 5,000 practice of yoga, Ayurveda and incorporating aromatherapy and essential oils. This course is meant to help yogis and essential oil enthusiasts to deepen their wellness practices, yet yoga teachers will get 10 hours of continuing education credit. Join us by opting in to receive our weekly blog and then, share and comment, help us build a dialogue, and be entered into our monthly giveaways. Join us by introducing our book  and DVD to your favorite yogi or yoga teacher.   Join us in Essential Yoga Sangha, a fun interactive way to learn more and grow our wellness practices. Let’s evolve as yogis and help transform ourselves and our world to a more healthy and happy 2018!

Our giveaway this month, Grapefruit essential oil,  an aroma that helps us to feel grounded as well as ready… to take on the world, to enjoy life!

We are helping you to gift your favorite yogi (that might be you)!

Gifts for our Essential Yoga Practice community!  Reflecting on this year we are certainly grateful for our growing community of followers who share our passion for yoga and aromatherapy and our quest to learn more about yogic and Ayurvedic traditions for deepening our understanding and our practices.

The forward steps of this year have included a two-week online course which helps our audience delve deeper with us, and a tear sheet pad (carried by Aromatools.com and oillife.com, meant for people looking to build an essential oil business in the company of yogis).  This course was written for all yogis and essential oil enthusiasts, and is approved by Yoga Alliance for 10 hours of continuing education credit for yoga teachers.  As you look ahead into your 2018 journey, consider joining us for the next “Essential Yoga Sangha,” which begins January 15.  The prerequisite for this course is to have a copy of our book .  Purchase a hard copy  or the Kindle version here and receive the Centering Sequence, a sequence on practicing various Sun Salutations, and a Chair Yoga Sequence too!  Purchase the Essential Yoga Sangha course and receive a copy of the DVD that goes along with our book ($11.99 value)!  Simply forward your purchase confirmation/email receipt to us at essentialyogapractice@gmail.com, with your address, so we can send these gifts to YOU!

In addition, share or tag (or retweet) to be entered into this months giveaway, a bottle of Wild Orange essential oil, the oil of generosity. Namaste friends and Happy Holidays! 

Give Yourself the Gift of Generosity

Would you think it ironic to read the phrase, “Give yourself the gift of generosity this year?” Give yourself the gift of generosity? It seems to be common knowledge for most that generosity makes us feel good…but it goes much further than that.

Studies are actually finding that generosity gives us benefits so great that it may be one of the major keys to living a happy and healthy life. On a physical level, generous living enhances our physical health, lowers blood pressure, fights depression, reduces stress and even enhances our lifespan! On an emotional (& mental health) level, it helps us connect to our purpose, helps us feel better about ourselves, boosts our confidence and combats tendencies towards self-hatred and/or self-sabotage. Socially it provides a sense of connection and well-being, it enhances relationships, allows us to love those we serve even more than before, encourages us to see the best in others and allows us to bask in a sense of community.  

What’s encouraging is that we don’t have to go into generosity “hyperdrive” in order to experience these benefits. We can do simple acts, such as smiling at someone, making someone cookies, giving up our seat, visit someone who is lonely, or do any other number of small actions. As long as our brain and heart are active in planning and carrying out generous acts, we benefit….and it’s the ultimate gift because it causes a ripple effect.

People are more likely to serve others once they’ve experienced some type of generosity, their feelings of love increase for the person who serves them, and literally helps us “spread sunshine” everywhere we go.

We love partner yoga as a representation of how powerful generosity is. With partner poses, we learn that giving by committing more deeply to the pose actually creates greater stability for us and the person we are partnering with. It is a great reminder that when we are more isolated, working on our own poses we must be much more tuned inward to focus on balance and technique. And certainly individual practice is beautiful, relaxing and benefits personal meditation practices. But partner yoga enhances connection, fun, and stability as we allow ourselves to learn the fine art of giving and receiving.

 

We’d love to hear how your practice of partner yoga has taught you lessons about generosity you are able to carry into other areas of your life.